Free Productivity Tips: Balance Priorities and Manage Multiple Projects

In 2016, I accomplished a lot. I worked a full-time corporate job, managed a side business, bought a townhouse, planned a 130-person/ 3-day wedding, and traveled internationally twice. And before you ask, no, I’m not made of money and didn’t have anyone else helping me during this time. It was definitely a struggle to balance so many priorities and still make time for other things like exercise, date nights, friends and family get-togethers, etc.

But, I developed a system that worked for me, and I’m sharing it with the hope that it will help some of you as well. I still follow most of this system today, years after I started. I now have a child, and this system has helped me easily transition into motherhood and finding the extra time to spend with my kid.

Here are my top tips for balancing your priorities and managing multiple projects:

  1. Delete social media from your phone: I’m not saying delete your accounts, just delete the apps from your phone. I realized early on that I was spending precious time endlessly scrolling through social media on my phone. So, I decided to delete the apps from my phone and only check them once a week on the computer. This saved me 3-4 hours of time each week that I was able to dedicate to other things. Today, I don’t have any social media except for LinkedIn.
  2. Sell your TV and cancel your TV/streaming services: It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you that TV is the biggest time suck of all time. But, then you might feel it’s the only way you get to relax during the end of the day. Well, there are other things you need to get done, and there are other ways to relax, so make the tough decision and get rid of that TV. It will save you money that you can spend on things that will further help you be more productive. This will help you by not wasting hours binge-watching shows that make literally very little contribution to your life. And to relax, try taking a long bath, indulging in some skin care, reading a book, or just going for a walk instead.
  3. Use tools to track your massive to-do list or lists: I had a list for each major project – work, buying a house, business, wedding planning, honeymoon planning, etc. It took me hours to put it together, but basically, for each list, I thought of all the tasks that needed to be done, and for some tasks, I even had sub-tasks listed beneath them. I looked at these lists every day and it kept me on track. You can use Excel or Google Sheets to make it easier for yourself to add and move stuff around. All you need is 4 columns: Task, duration (#of days it would take you to complete), due date, and Comments/Notes. There are also free and paid tools out there that can help you manage your task lists.
  4. Make yourself a plan every day: You can do this on your computer, notebook, or even on your phone. The idea is that you choose 3 tasks that you plan to get done that day. Those massive to-do lists will come in handy. Simply choose 3 tasks/sub-tasks that need to get done based on the timelines you put in for your projects. You can do more than 3 tasks, but follow the rule that you will get at least those 3 top things done that day, and anything additional would just be a bonus.
  5. Take an early or later lunch: You might wonder what that has to do with getting more done. Just hear me out. For all the projects I was juggling, I had to make several phone calls and send emails. Emails weren’t too hard as I could do that while working. But phone calls had to wait till lunchtime or after the day was done and during my commute home. Well, most people have the same idea and make phone calls during their lunch break, and to avoid sitting on hold forever, I started taking an early lunch. I was getting into the office at 7:30 am, so it wasn’t weird for me to take lunch at 11 am. I was able to make calls while I would eat my lunch.
  6. Meditate and exercise- I’m not a morning person and exercising in the morning never worked for me. But I was motivated to lose weight for my wedding so I started waking up at 5am and then I would meditate for 15-20 minutes followed by a 20 minute run around the neighborhood and then get ready and eat breakfast and make my daily Top 3 goals list. Surprised reading the last sentence? I’ll come clean and say all of that was a lie! At the time my commute was 45-50 mins so there was no way to make that kind of morning routine work. I started meditating right before I’d go to bed. It would get me in a relaxed state and I would be ready to go to bed right after. For exercise, I joined a crossfit gym that was close to work. Instead of sitting in heavy rush hour traffic, I figured I could go work out and then drive home when the traffic had died down. I understand that Crossfit gyms are expensive, but running is free, so if you can get a run in before or after work, it’s just as good. We all know how important it is to do these things but we never make time for it. For me, it did not just help me get in shape, but it helped me manage my stress levels as well. There were days where I felt I couldn’t do it that day but I would push myself to get it done. I did not go to the crossfit gym on the weekends (45 min drive, remember). Instead I would go hiking or just lounge around the house to take a break. I understand this might not work for everyone but with your new found time (from not watching TV or being on social media), you can find the 30-40 mins in your day to spare for meditation and exercise.
  7. Meal prep on Sundays- I grocery shop Sunday afternoon and use the evening to meal prep for the week. This saved me hours during the weekdays as all my meals were already prepped for the week. This also helped me keep my weight in check as I wasn’t eating out that much. By having all my meals prepped, I was able to save time and money, and make healthier choices. Meal prepping on Sundays has been a game-changer for me, and it’s something that I still do today.

These are the tips that helped me balance my priorities and manage multiple projects. Remember, it’s not about getting everything done but about getting the most important things done. It’s about being productive, not just busy. Give these tips a try, and see how they work for you.

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